The document, Proclaim, was published by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on 29 June 2016. It is a follow-up of the Year of Consecrated life (YCL): 30 November 2014 – 2 February 2016. It is a continuation of the previous three documents on Religious Life (Rejoice, Keep Watch and Contemplate) that emerged in the context of the YCL.
Authorship: Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
Audience: All Consecrated Men and Women
Year of Release: 29 June 2016, Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
Type of Document: Guidelines
Number of Articles: 93
Purpose of this document: Continuation of the Year of Consecrated Life taking cues from Rejoice, Keep Watch and Contemplate.
Major influence for this document: Pope Francis and his teachings: Evangelii Gaudium. More than 50 % of the references are from EG!
Structure of the Document: Prologue (World today) and Epilogue (Reflections from Francis). Three main parts: To the Ends of the Earth (Consecrated mission), Church which goes forth (Ecclesiology), Outside the Gates (New frontiers of Mission). The three parts begin with a listening to the past (scripture) and present (religious life today) and then goes to proposals and prospects.
Tagline: The Religious carry out the mission mandate of Jesus (Go and Proclaim) effectively in the context of today.
- The World Today
This is a world of multiple complexities. It is time to ask ourselves: what does God want me to be and do in the world? It is the world where we lose our real identity and have multiple identities (e.g., social media). The activism of life today makes us forget the great Greek search, know thyself (5). There is the temptation of spiritual desertification and disenchantment of the world. (6)
- Tasks of Religious
- New Evangelisation demands that we bring new ardour and method to the same Christian message of Good News (8,9).
- Mk 16: 15. Go and proclaim… is the mission mandate followed by the first disciples and continued by the founders/foundresses. We share in this mission which embraces every act in the Church (10-13).
- We are servants of the Word (Scripture and Tradition). We proclaim the Word in three ways: Proclaiming the Word of God (Kerygma, Martyria), Celebrating Sacraments (Leitourgia) and ministry of service (Diakonia). The language of proclamation (homily, catechesis, pastoral ministries) should be the mother’s language (Francis in EG) and catechesis is an important act in new evangelisation (19,20).
- Collective Mission: The mission is not by individuals. It is a collective venture. First and foremost, it is a partnership with God (39).
- Two missionary tasks of Religious: Review and renew old ministries to let good news in. Venture new missionary proposals with creativity and courage (47).
- Raise questions to evaluate our mission today: Are our ministries and presence in resonance with the spirit of our foundresses/ founders? Are these works suitable to carry out today? Are we sharing the needs and addressing the needs of our people today?
- Have a pedagogy of reliability: In assemblies and chapters Religious promise more than they can deliver. The decisions and choices should be translated into action (54,55).
- Generation gap: Religious today need to listen to both old (past wisdom) and new generations (new directions, not to cling on to lifeless past) of Religious (69).
- Mission towards Peripheries: The challenge of Religious is to get out of comfort zones to reach out to the peripheries (74).
- Identity of Religious
- Alter Christus: Religious see as Jesus see, are merciful as Christ was merciful (15,16).
- Mysterium Lunae: We are like the moon, reflecting the light from the sun (church as mysterium lunae). The missionary is a contemplative in action (18).
- Joyful Religious: A Religious is one who brings good news (joy of the Gospel) to all. (Not like people coming from a funeral service EG).22
- Experts in Communion: Religious live in fraternity in continuity with the early Christian community (Acts 2: 42; 4: 32-33). Religious becomes experts in communion (Francis in EG) (24,26, 28) The effectiveness of religious life depends on the quality of fraternal life in common (29).
- Missionary Religious: All consecrated life in its many forms – virginal, monastic, apostolic, secular – is missionary (41).
- Religious Life Today
- The Problem: As found in Paul’s time. Religious experience uncertainty and troubles on the way. These troubles at times make them feel helpless. Pluralistic communities initially welcomed with warmth, ended with conflicts and dissidence (33,34). Temptations to individualism in our work instead of shared responsibility are ever on the increase (46).
- The Church’s mission is rich due to the charisms of the Religious Life (45).
- The Church is like a polyhedron (multiple faces). She is unity in distinctiveness (48).
- Four Principles of EG to guide Religious Today (48-52)
- Time is greater than space. Initiate the work rather than occupy the spaces of power. Space hardens the process whereas time propels us to the future with hope (Lumen Fidei 57).
- Unity prevails over conflict. This is how we transform conflicts into communion.
- Realities are more important than ideas. Ideas make us victims of sophistry, creating documents after documents (chapters), information-overdose and chats (social media), while reality leads to the logic of the Incarnation (word in deed!).
- The whole is greater than the part. Expand our vision and mission to integrate the differences.
- “Communion (of religious) leads to mission and is itself mission (28).”
- “Fraternal life is not the entirety of the mission of a religious community, but it is an essential element. Fraternal life is just as important as apostolic life (29).”
- “Without the Holy Spirit, God is far away, Christ stays in the past, the Gospel is a dead letter, the Church is simply an organisation, mission a matter of propaganda, the liturgy, no more than an evocation, Christian living, a slave morality (Orthodox Metropolitan Ignatius di Latakia in 1968).” 37
- “Presently, it seems as though consecrated life has lowered the missionary anchor in ports that are tried, safe, private. This is how sailing is abandoned on Peter’s boat: although risky, and at times in the middle of the billows, it always has the security of Jesus Christ’s presence (Mk 4: 35-41) 53.”
- The document uses exclusive language! It seems the Curia is not affected by the Francis Effect found in Evangelii Gaudium that was inclusive in its language!
- The language is not as easy as of Francis. Lots of isms, foreign words and persons taken for granted.
- Art. 20. Says that catechesis is the first educational act of evangelisation. Perhaps, the primary proclamation (first announcement) is the first act of evangelisation.
- It was a rare sight to see an official document of the Curia with lots of references from individual authors apart from the Holy See or the popes.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Are our ministries and presence in consonance with the spirit of our foundresses/ founders?
- Are these works suitable for today?
- Are we sharing and addressing the needs of our people today?
- Who is Jesus for the people of our time?
- Is our faith fruitful? Does our faith produce good works?
- What does it mean for our communities and for each one of us to belong to the Church, which is Catholic and Apostolic?
- What does it mean to evangelise the poor?
Fr.Gilbert Choondal SDB
To subscribe to the magazine Contact Us